Trials & Litigation

Ex-lawyer Tom Girardi lashes out at prosecutor in competency hearing; brain shrinkage reported

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Tom Girardi was disbarred in June 2022. Photo by Sipa USA via the Associated Press.

A prosecutor in Los Angeles claimed that an outburst by ex-lawyer Tom Girardi during a competency hearing Wednesday shows that the disbarred lawyer understands the criminal proceedings against him.

Girardi, 84, said “F- - - you,” to Assistant U.S. Attorney Ali Moghaddas as the prosecutor referenced Girardi’s voicemails and memos from the time that his lawyers began to claim that he was incompetent to face trial, report Bloomberg Law and Courthouse News Service.

“Don’t be bad to me. I’m a nice guy. I don’t want to have any problems with anybody,” Girardi said in one of the voicemails from December 2020.

Girardi is facing federal wire fraud charges in Los Angeles for allegedly stealing more than $15 million from several clients. In Chicago, he is charged with federal wire fraud and contempt for allegedly misappropriating more than $3 million in settlement funds from air crash victims.

Girardi is the estranged husband of Erika Girardi, who appeared on The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills reality TV show. He was also an adviser to the movie Erin Brockovich and part of the successful legal team portrayed in the film about a paralegal’s investigation of groundwater contamination.

Moghaddas was questioning neuropsychologist Stacey Wood at the time of the outburst. The prosecutor contended that the outburst indicated that Girardi knew that he had “nothing to lose.”

Wood acknowledged that the outburst was “certainly rude and inappropriate.”

The previous day, Wood testified that she had diagnosed Girardi with “major neurocognitive disorder,” according to another story by Courthouse News Service.

Another expert, Helena Chui, a neurology professor at the University of Southern California, said MRIs show that Girardi’s brain has been atrophying for years. The problems might have begun after a 2017 car accident, she said.

Lay witnesses for the defense testified Wednesday that they also saw changes in Girardi’s mental state. Another witness who worked in the memory care unit where Girardi now lives said she doesn’t think that Girardi’s problems are faked, according to Courthouse News Service.

“He just sits at the table and … writes on a piece of paper,” said Margarita Munoz, the director of the memory care unit in which Girardi resides. “He thinks he’s working on a case.”

See also:

“State bar finds ‘shocking past culture of unethical and unacceptable behavior’ in its handling of Girardi complaints”

“More than 1,700 California lawyers suspended for failure to comply with new trust account rules”

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